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The Barking brothel that enslaved teenagers

Rodica Gheorghe and her ex-husband Nicusor Gheorghe

A husband and wife forced women, some as young as 18, to become prostitutes out of luxurious hotels in East London. Romanians Nicusar and Rodica Gheorghe trafficked 10 Romanian women into the country and forced them to sleep with as many as 15 men each night.

When police raided the brothel – situated in Cecil Avenue, Barking – at 5am on March 26, 2019, in one locked room they discovered 7 women, including Nicusor.

A second simultaneous raid was enacted at a brothel in Albert Road, Ilford, operated by the Gheorghes, and even more women were found there.

Nicusor, 34, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment after being convicted of two counts of rape, eight counts of human trafficking, one count of trafficking into the UK for sexual exploitation, 10 counts of controlling prostitution for gain and one count of removing criminal property.

Mum-of-two Rodica, 33, was jailed for five years after being found guilty of two counts of human trafficking, eight counts of controlling prostitution for gain and one count of removing criminal property.

Sentencing them, judge Andrew Goymer said: “During this trial, the jury and I heard evidence from 10 Romanian women who were driven into prostitution – it was not the lifestyle of choice. It was a sad and sordid tale of degradation and exploitation. Those women were being callously and cynically exploited, treated as a commodity, treated like vehicles or machinery to be hired out.”

Detectives began an investigation into the Gheorghes after Romanian police managed to intercept a phone call between the two back in 2018. The court head that over nine years, they had arrogantly ran brothels from various addresses in London.

Searching for job vacancies in Romania, they are invited to an interview for an imaginary company, where they are promised a flight to London to work as a waitress. When they arrive, are informed waitressing is not an option, and instead, there is only sex work. Some of these women were given simply £20 from £1000 of a day’s sex work between 2pm and 6am.

For many, they are raped and further threatened with violence if they do not co-operate. If the women fell asleep during their hours of work, they were fined £50 by the Gheorghes. If they desired to leave the house Nicusor would drive them in his car, and this could not happen during so-called ‘working hours’.

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